History Wars

Victorinox released a limited edition Swiss Army Knife for its 125th anniversary

Miguel Ortiz Avatar

There are around 400 different models and variations of the original Swiss Army Knife (Victorinox)

The iconic Swiss Army Knife was historically manufactured by two companies. However, Victorinox is now the sole manufacturer of the handy tool. To celebrate the 125th anniversary of the Swiss Army Knife, the company released a limited edition replica of the original model from 1897.

Karl Elsener patented the original Swiss Army Knife (Victorinox)

In 1897, Karl Elsener patented the original Officer’s and Sports Knife. It included a long blade, short blade, screwdriver, awl, can-opener and corkscrew. Featuring six tools and constructed with just 18 components, the knife combined function and utility with a simple elegance. Before 1921, the knife was made of carbon steel rather than stainless steel as the latter was too expensive to acquire and difficult to machine. Elsener’s design spawned hundreds of pocket knife variations that bear the Swiss Army Knife name.

An original Officer’s and Sports Knife (left) and the Replica 1897 Limited Edition (Victorinox)

The Replica 1897 Limited Edition Swiss Army knife pays homage to the original with all six original tools and the exact same number of components. While it retains the same function as the original, Victorinox improved the safety of the springs for the opening and closing of the tools. The scales are made of the same material, vulcanized fiber, and lack the trademark Victorinox Cross & Shield since the emblem was not adopted until 1909. Finally, the replica utilizes stainless steel to provide users with a tool that lives up to Victorinox’s name-brand toughness.

Swiss Army Knives have been carried by professionals and enthusiasts all over the world. “We received, during the war in Yugoslavia, from an officer also a story that he was in the war. And he was shot in his leg, and he had in his pocket a Swiss Army knife,” Victorinox CEO Carl Elsener Jr. told FOX Business. “And the bullet was held up by the knife. It could really have been very dangerous for him.” The venerable Swiss Army Knife has even been used off-world.

On November 15, 1995, Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield docked with the Russian Mir space station for a five-day mission. However, he was unable to open the hatch to board the space station. “So, I did the true space-age thing: I broke into the Mir using a Swiss Army Knife,” Hadfield later recounted to reporters. “Never leave the planet without one.”